Construction Requirements

New buildings in the floodplain must be protected from flood damage. Douglas County's building code requires that new structures must be elevated at least one foot above the base flood elevation  (or a minimum of 2’ elevation in the Urban Growth Area of the City of Lawrence). No new construction or filling is allowed in the floodway, unless it can be demonstrated through hydrologic analysis that it will not increase in the base flood elevation.  Development includes any man-made change to the land or buildings, including, but not limited to:

  • the construction of structures or additions to structures,
  • the placement of mobile homes or accessory structures,
  • the renovation, repair or improvement of the interior and/or exterior of existing structures,
  • the conversion of garages, carports, storage rooms, porches, patios and similar spaces into living space,
  • the addition or replacement of any machinery and equipment (HVAC units, propane tanks, etc.) servicing the building,
  • mining, dredging, filling, grading, paving, excavating, drilling,
  • the storage of materials or equipment.

Structures are required to be dry floodproofed and have the lowest floor elevated at least 1’ above the Base Flood Elevation (or a minimum of 2’ elevation in the Urban Growth Area of Lawrence). The minimum elevation applies to HVAC, water heaters, heat pumps, and similar machinery and equipment.

Wet floodproofing is permitted for Ag buildings and other non-habitable structures.

Always call the Douglas County Zoning & Codes Department at 785.331.1343 before you build, alter, re-grade or fill on your property.  If you see building or filling without the County's approval, please notify us.  A permit is required to ensure that projects do not cause problems on other properties and meet local, State and Federal requirements.

If new construction or renovations are in the floodplain, a flood development permit  is required prior to the issue of the building permit.

Please see Douglas County Floodplain Management Regulations 12-328 for construction in floodplains.

Additional helpful information:


Information for Engineers, Surveyors and Architects

All development and grading in the floodplain (not just structures) requires local permits.  Be sure to contact the Douglas County Zoning Office to discuss applicable requirements.

The County's Floodplain Management Regulations (Chapter 12-328), defines development requirements within floodplains and floodways to promote public health and safety, to minimize flood losses. Adopted County Building Codes includes structural requirements applicable to development in these areas.

An Elevation Certificate (EC) is an important administrative tool of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).  It is to be used to provide elevation information necessary to ensure compliance with the Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance, to determine the proper flood insurance premium rate, and to support a request for a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) or Letter of Map Revision based on Fill (LOMR-F).  The Elevation Certificate is required in order to properly rate post-FIRM buildings or substantially improved structures.  You may learn more about Elevation Certificates by visiting FEMA's Overview of the NFIP Elevation Certificate.

A LOMA or LOMR-F are documents that FEMA can issue that officially remove a property and/or structure from the Special Flood Hazard Area (1% or 100 year floodplain) depicted on the Flood Insurance Rate Maps.  A LOMA or LOMR-F request must include certain mapping and survey information for FEMA's consideration.  Specific requirements relating to this process can be found on FEMA's website for letter of map amendments and letter of map revisions.

Elevation benchmarks in proximity to Special Flood Hazard Areas in Douglas County are mapped for your convenience.  Monument reference numbers shown thereon are those used in the National Geodetic Survey Datasheets, where additional information is provided.

FEMA has numerous helpful resources available on their website, including information specifically directed to Engineers, Surveyors, and Architects.  More information is available on FEMA'S website for Engineers, Surveyors & Architects.

Other FEMA provided information links:


Information for Residential Owners/Renters and Small Businesses

Flood Zone Information

  • If you are not sure if your property is located in a FEMA designated Special Flood Hazard Area, you may a request a written determination.  You may complete the online "Flood Zone Information Request Form" and submit it to the Douglas County Zoning & Codes Department or contact us at 785.331.1343.

If you wish to make a determination for yourself, you can view FEMA flood hazard maps at the Douglas County Zoning & Codes Department.  Or you can access floodplain maps online at the FEMA Map Service Center.  You do not need an account to get flood zone information.

Flood Insurance

  • If your property is located within a FEMA Special Flood Hazard Area, Federal Law requires that a flood insurance policy be obtained as a condition of a federally backed mortgage or loan that is secured by the structure.  It is up to the lender to determine whether flood insurance is required for a property.  If you have learned that you are required to obtain flood insurance, or if you are not sure if your property is located in a FEMA designated Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), you may request a written determination.  You may complete the "Flood Zone Information Request Form" and submit it to the Douglas County Zoning & Codes Department.
  • Homeowner's insurance policies do not cover damage from floods. You should consider obtaining flood insurance, even if it hasn't been required by your mortgage lender. Because Douglas County participates in the NFIP, you can purchase a separate flood insurance policy.  Don't wait for the next flood to buy insurance protection.  There is a 30 day waiting period before National Flood Insurance coverage takes effect. Contact your insurance agent for more information on rates and coverage.

    For more information on flood insurance, please call NFIP assistance at 1.888.379.9531.

    Additional Resources

  • Residential Coverage  Protect Yourself with Flood Insurance

  • Preferred Risk Policy Eligibility Extension  New Low-Cost Flood Insurance Option For Your Community

  • Cheaper Flood Insurance 5 Ways to Lower the cost of Your Flood Insurance Premium
  • FEMA'S National Official Map Service  FEMA'S web map site for LOMAs and LOMRs
  • Kansas Floodplain Management Tips Floodplain Tips from the State of Kansas Department of Agriculture Division